Genetic factors contribute to the risk of sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias. Here, positional cloning methods establish KVLQT1 as the chromosome 11-linked LQT1 gene responsible for the most common inherited cardiac arrhythmia. KVLQT1 is strongly expressed in the heart and encodes a protein with structural features of a voltage-gated potassium channel. KVLQT1 mutations are present in affected members of 16 arrhythmia families, including one intragenic deletion and ten different missense mutations. These data define KVLQT1 as a novel cardiac potassium channel gene and show that mutations in this gene cause susceptibility to ventricular tachyarrhythmias and sudden death.